‘Bigg Boss 15’: TV’s Birbal Vishal Kotian sold tickets for Salman films in black

TV actor Vishal Kotian, who entered the ‘Bigg Boss 15’ house on Saturday, is best-known for playing Birbal in the show ‘Akbar Ka Bal Birbal’, but it’s not been an easy journey for him from the Dagdi chawl in Mumbai where he grew up. The chawl became briefly famous after it was featured in the 2015 Marathi action drama named after it.

“I have seen lot of hardships in my life,” the actor said in a conversation with IANS. “I come from a slum area of Mumbai. I am from Dagdi Chawl, where there was no proper education and no one was there to speak proper English. Now it’s improved. From there I have reached here.”

Kotian started as a model, but later was cast in a number of television serials such as ‘Devon Ke Dev Mahadev’, ‘Mahabharat’, ‘Vighnaharta Ganesh’, ‘Family No. 1’, ‘Ssshhhh… Koi Hai’, ‘CID’ and ‘Pyaar Mein Twist’.

Talking about being called to join the ‘Bigg Boss 15’ house, Kotian said: “I wanted to be a part of all the seasons, but they wanted me to be on it this time. And of course, being an entertainer and television actor, why I would not want to be in the biggest reality show in which I will get money and fame. Those people who tell reporters that they chose ‘Bigg Boss’ are lying. ‘Bigg Boss’ chooses people. I am honest to my profession and myself.”

Bigg Boss, according to the actor, is “a place of freedom”. He said: “I know it is called the most controversial reality show, but I want people to know that this is not just about fights or the use of abusive language. It is more than that. There is an entertainment element too.”

Would audiences like him on ‘Bigg Boss 15’? Kotian replied with confidence: “I am humorous, I have a good personality, I am a good-looking guy, and I know that. I am true to myself — and that’s what matters in life. I want people to remember me that here was this guy who is a ‘tapodi’ but can speak English and has an MBA. They should remember me as a person who actually fought with everybody, but still entertained people. And he’s handsome.”

Recalling the time he spent with the late ‘Bigg Boss 13’ winner Sidharth Shukla, Kotian said: “I knew him much before we became actors. We used to ride a bike together and play ‘gali’ cricket. Sidharth and I were very close to each other. In fact, in his last project, which we shot in Odisha, we play brothers and it is yet to be released. His demise came as a shock and really, it’s unfortunate, but then that is a reality we have to accept. His death taught me that life is too short to hold grudges, so just move on. This time, I am dedicating my ‘Bigg Boss 15’ call to Shukla. This is for you Shuklaji.”

Talking about meeting Salman Khan on stage, Kotian said: “I have watched his movies. I took inspiration from him to work on my body. It’s a dream come true. I used to sell tickets in the black market before movie shows, especially for his films. When I was 12- or 13-year-old, I sold tickets for the movie ‘Veergati’; at the age of 15 I sold for ‘Bandhan’. With the money I paid my school fees. I am thankful to Salman Khan. In a way, I owe my education to him.”